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TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014  07:44:01 AM

Surviving children receive medals honoring memories of their fallen parents

Email   Print   Share By Michael Heckman, Sentinel Staff
August 20, 2009 | Living
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Congressmen Chet Edwards and John Carter present Timothy Swenson, son of Spc. David Swenson Jr., who died June 16, 2005, with a Gold Medal of Remembrance while Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, looks on. Michael Heckman, Sentinel Staff
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Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, helps a Gold Medal of Remembrance recipient during the ceremony. Michael Heckman, Sentinel Staff
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Justin Rozier, 6, and his grandfather David look at Justin’s Gold Medal of Remembrance as his mother Jessica watches. Justin’s father, 1st Lt. Jonathan Rozier, was killed in Iraq in 2003. Michael Heckman, Sentinel Staff
Glancing down at the gold-lettered dark blue box, Justin Rozier, 6, appeared calm but reached up for assurance, placing his right arm around the neck of his grandfather, David Rozier. To his right his wife, Barbara, held Justin’s 15-month-old brother, Grady.

To their left, Jessica Rozier, the widow of 1st Lt. Jonathan Rozier, who was killed in Baghdad three days after his 25th birthday on July 19, 2003, watched.

After the ceremony held Sunday morning on the Resiliency Campus at Fort Hood to honor about 60 children who survive parents killed in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Jessica said, “It means a lot to us. His dad was killed very early in the war and there wasn’t anything like this then. He’s just now learning how to grieve, so this is helping him a lot to cope with not really every having a dad.”

Jonathan’s father said because his son had been a member of the corps of cadets at Texas A&M University, before joining the Army in December, 2001, he was used to seeing his son in uniform.

“I guess my best memory of him,” David said, “was just seeing him in uniform and how proud he was to put on the uniform of the United States Army, and how proud he was to serve and to wear the uniform.”

Addressing a crowd of about 150 people, Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, said, “I really want to talk directly to the children.

“This ceremony reflects national remembrance and, for you children, as we hang this Gold Medal of Remembrance around your necks, it’s our nation’s way of recognizing the contributions your fathers made; it’s our nation telling you we will never forget.”

Lynch asked the children receiving the medals to store them in a place of honor and “... remember the wealth, celebrate the life; and share the journey. That’s what we promise to do on a daily basis.”

In ceremonies held nationwide since 2007, more than 700 Gold Medals of Remembrance have been presented to the children of Soldiers killed in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. It is the goal of the White House Commission on Remembrance to honor every child who has lost a parent during their service to the nation.

Before the medals were presented, Lynch was joined by Congressmen Chet Edwards and John Carter.

“Only now, in your presence,” Edwards said, “can I begin or even try to begin to understand the emotions President Lincoln must have felt as he stood on the battlegrounds of Gettysburg and immortalized those who had given, in his words, their last, full measure of devotion to their country. He knew than as we know now that no words can adequately express our profound sense of respect for you and your loves ones in your sacrifice for our country.”

Because the loss felt by the Families of fallen Soldiers “... goes on long after the battle is over,” he said.
 
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